Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel - Hydrobates castro
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General Comments Hardly any bird in North Carolina has had such a dramatic change in status over a 10-15-year period as has the Band-rumped Storm-Petrel. The first state record, when known as the Harcourt's Storm-Petrel, came in 1972, of a dead individual found on a beach in Carteret. However, repeated pelagic trips into the Gulf Stream, particularly into the deeper waters beyond 100 fathoms, in the 1980's has shown this storm-petrel to be a regular and fairly common non-breeding resident from May into Sep. Whether the species had always been regular is questionable, but most of the earlier (pre-1980) trips were on fishing boats that barely reached the Gulf Stream, and then only into shallower waters (30-40 fathoms), where fishermen could drop their lines to the ocean floor to catch bottom-feeding species. In fact, it favors deep waters (500-1,000 fathoms); when a boat does reach this depth, Band-rumpeds are often observed, usually amid the similar Wilson's and Leach's storm-petrels, especially the former. This can be a difficult species to identify, and because it usually does not approach boats, most observers need to study a few individuals before they feel comfortable in counting it on their life list.

The species was moved to a different genus by the AOS in June 2019; it formerly was in the genus Oceanodroma.

Breeding Status Nonbreeder
NC BRC List Definitive
State Status
U.S. Status
State Rank S2N
Global Rank G3
Coastal Plain Offshore visitor to the Gulf Stream. Regular and often fairly common from late May to late Aug, with peak counts in the first half of Aug. Unlike most other pelagic species, there are practically no out-of-season records, with all falling between mid-May and mid-Sep. Limited mainly to deeper waters (beyond 100 fathoms) of the Gulf Stream, seldom seen except off Oregon and Hatteras inlets. Casual from shore, with identification being very tricky and thus difficult to document. Inland record: 2, Croatan Sound, 27 Aug 1998 (after Hurricane Bonnie). No far inland records. Peak offshore counts: 234, off Hatteras Inlet, 6 Aug 2000; 160, off Oregon Inlet, 9 Aug 1997.
Piedmont Accidental visitor, during or after hurricanes. One, Kerr Lake, 19 Sep 2003 (after Hurricane Isabel) [Chat 68:46 link]; one, specimen, found in Tryon (Polk), 21 Aug 1994 (after a storm not identified) [Chat 59:101 link].
Mountains No records.
Finding Tips This species is being seen on about 2/3rds of the organized pelagic trips into deep waters from late May to late Aug, at least out of Hatteras and Oregon inlets. Your best bet is early to mid-Aug, when the highest counts have occurred.
Attribution LeGrand[2019-06-26], LeGrand[2012-01-08], LeGrand[2011-11-25]
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
Click on county for list of all known species.